Hiring a motivational speaker is a big investment. It pays to be thoughtful and deliberate about your choice. After all, the success or failure of your event will be determined by the efficacy of the motivational speaker you choose.

Speakers are, by nature, warm, charismatic, and convincing. Don’t rely on the speaker’s ability to sell you on his services. Instead, use these four criteria to provide your audience with a speaker who is truly capable of serving them.

Criteria #1: Do the motivational speaker’s methods and key topic takeaways match both the event and the audience? 

Ask yourself who will be listening to the speech. Where are they in their lives and careers?

Author and entrepreneur Michael L.F. Slavin’s One Million in the Bank speech is aimed at:

  • Ordinary people with an ordinary income
  • People who have yet to start a business, but who want to
  • People who have had trouble thinking of themselves as potential millionaires, but who need a boost in the right direction
  • People who have been holding back on starting a business because they believe they have to come up with some new, world-changing, innovative idea in order to be successful

While highly effective for its intended target audience, this speech would likely not be the best fit for veteran entrepreneurs who need ideas on how to increase their profit margins. Find out if the speaker of your choice is able to address a variety of topics for a flexible audience. Most speakers have lists of their most common topics available on their websites. Good, ethical speakers will also tell you if the event isn’t a good fit for their focus area.

Criteria #2: The Motivational Speaker Should be Ready and Willing to Customize His Presentation

Forbes public speaking expert named Nick Morgan suggested that every speaking event is really a collaboration between the organizers, the speaker, and the audience.

Obviously, there can be very little collaboration if the speaker is only able to deliver a rigid list of pre-created topics. While every good speaker should have a solid list of “go-to” topics to work from, it’s always better to work with one who will get invested in the success of your event, even if that means tweaking a speech to better relate to the audience.

Criteria #3: Has the speaker accomplished anything that’s relevant or noteworthy?

This goes back to ensuring the speaker has the experience and credentials to address the topics and issues your audience needs to hear about.

Motivational speaking is an unregulated profession. Anyone can hang out their shingle and call themselves a “leadership expert” if they want to. It’s up to you to do your due diligence. Where and when has your candidate exercised true leadership? What kinds of accomplishments has he achieved for the organizations he’s worked for? If he’s launched businesses, did they thrive? Has he written any books or won any awards? If you brought this leader on to a project at your own company would you feel reasonably confident that the project would be successful?

Don’t just take the motivational speaker’s word for it. Read his recommendations on LinkedIn. Do a bit of research on Google.

Criteria #4: Will the speaker focus on practical solutions?

Too many motivational speakers focus on rah-rah rehashes of The Secret. It’s all about “vision boards” and the “power of positive thinking.”

In fact, getting too focused on positive thinking can actually increase stress and decrease productivity. Psychologists have found people get overly focused on fixing their thoughts instead of focusing on fixing the real, physical problem that’s before them. And thoughts aren’t easy to change (have you ever tried not thinking about a thing)?

Sure, it’s hard to solve problems from a position of negativity. However, “positive thinking” on its own is utterly incapable of solving problems. Sooner or later the thinker is going to have to stop daydreaming, affirming, and visualizing in favor of taking some concrete steps toward his or her goal.

Sometimes, in fact, you really just need to know what to do. A nail doesn’t really care if you are happy or sad, so long as you drive it home with the proper hammer and do so in the right place and in the right way. A motivational speaker that arms an audience with practical know-how empowers those audience members to move forward.

Besides, increasing a person’s understanding and competence by making the right actions appear accessible will naturally increase a person’s positive outlook by showing them that real solutions are within our grasp. We tend to feel negative when we feel helpless. A great motivational speaker becomes the enemy of helplessness by drawing good road maps to destinations audience members need and want to visit. Look for someone who can do that while meeting all of the other criteria, and your next event is sure to be an incredible success.






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